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3 Top-Ranked Dividend Stocks: A Smarter Way to Boost Your Retirement Income - November 21, 2019

Zacks Equity Research

Strange but true: seniors fear death less than running out of money in retirement.

And older Americans have legitimate reasons for this worry, even if they have dutifully saved for their golden years. That's because the traditional ways people manage retirement may no longer provide enough income to meet expenses - and with people generally living longer, the principal retirement savings is exhausted far too early in the retirement period.

The tried - and - true retirement investing approach of yesterday doesn't work today.

For many years, bonds or other fixed-income assets could produce the yield needed to provide solid income for retirement needs. However, these yields have dwindled over time: 10-year Treasury bond rates in the late 1990s were around 6.50%, but today, that rate is a thing of the past, with a slim likelihood of rates making a comeback in the foreseeable future.

The effect of this drop in rates is substantial: over 20 years, the change in yield for a $1 million investment in 10-year Treasuries is over $1 million.

In addition to the considerable drop in bond yields, today's retirees are nervous about their future Social Security benefits. Because of certain demographic factors, it's been estimated that the funds that pay the Social Security benefits will run out of money in 2035.

So what's a retiree to do? You could cut your expenses to the bone, and take the risk that your Social Security checks don't shrink. Or you could find an alternative investment that provides a steady, higher-rate income stream to replace dwindling bond yields.

Invest in Dividend Stocks

Dividend-paying stocks from low-risk, high-quality companies are a smart way to generate steady and reliable attractive income streams to replace current low risk, low yielding Treasury and bond options.

For example, AT&T and Coca-Cola are income stocks with attractive dividend yields of 3% or better. Look for stocks like this that have paid steady, increasing dividends for years (or decades), and have not cut their dividends even during recessions.

One approach to recognizing appropriate stocks is to look for companies with an average dividend yield of 3% and positive average annual dividend growth. Numerous stocks hike dividends over time, counterbalancing inflation risks.

Here are three dividend-paying stocks retirees should consider for their nest egg portfolio.

Brinker International (EAT) is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.38 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.47%. This compares to the Retail - Restaurants industry's yield of 0% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.83%. In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.52 is flat compared to last year.

Exelon (EXC) is paying out a dividend of 0.36 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.2% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 3.04% and the S&P 500's yield. Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.45 is up 5.07% from last year.

Currently paying a dividend of 0.27 per share, Federated Investors (FII) has a dividend yield of 3.23%. This is compared to the Financial - Investment Management industry's yield of 2.35% and the S&P 500's current yield. Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.08 is flat compared to last year.

But aren't stocks generally more risky than bonds?

The fact is that stocks, as an asset class, carry more risk than bonds. To counterbalance this, invest in superior quality dividend stocks that not only can grow over time but more significantly, can also decrease your overall portfolio volatility with respect to the broader stock market.

An upside to adding dividend stocks to your retirement portfolio: they can help lessen the effects of inflation, since many dividend-paying companies (especially blue chip stocks) generally increase their dividends over time.

Thinking about dividend-focused mutual funds or ETFs? Watch out for fees.

If you're interested in investing in dividends, but are thinking about mutual funds or ETFs rather than stocks, beware of fees. Mutual funds and specialized ETFs may carry high fees, which could lower the overall gains you earn from dividends, undercutting your dividend income strategy. Be sure to look for funds with low fees if you decide on this approach.

Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you select high-quality, low-fee funds or stocks, looking for a steady stream of income from dividend-paying equities can potentially lead you to a solid and more peaceful retirement.

Generating income is just one aspect of planning for a comfortable retirement.

To learn more ways to maximize your assets - and avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize your financial security - download our free report:

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Brinker International, Inc. (EAT) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Exelon Corporation (EXC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Federated Investors, Inc. (FII) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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